James Piles

An old cemetery in a small village in Ohio, it was beautiful yet sad. The cemetery was in poor condition with many broken or missing stones. I methodically walked the rows of stones looking for my ggg-grandfather, James Piles. I knew he was buried there, as a local group had read the cemetery some years before and had published the listing. Finally, about three-fourths of the way through the cemetery, I found it! There was James’ stone lying flat on the ground with weeds growing around the edges. It’s former base sat a foot or so away. Armed with my jug of water, spray bottle, rag, and soft brush, I cleaned the stone well enough to get a decent picture.

I lingered over James’ stone thinking about what a good research trip this had been. I had set out to determine if the Nathaniel Piles I had located in census and tax records was the father of James. After multiple trips to courthouses in two different counties, I had located a vague probate file, land deeds, and finally a petition for partition of land that definitively stated that “my” James was the son of Nathaniel. Mission accomplished. With the pleasure of a great genealogy find in my soul, I headed back to my car. At the end of the James’ row of stones, I happened to glance down. I did a double take…could this possibly be? The stone read, “Mary, wife of Nathaniel Piles”. OMG. Could this be James’ mother? The early land deeds I had located indicated that Nathaniel had a wife named Mary, although she had apparently died and in 1849 he had married a Margaret. Oh, wow! Mary wasn’t listed in the pages of the previous cemetery listing. I almost missed her. I cleaned up her stone, took pictures, and once more headed to the car. All I can say is…serendipity.

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